Classic Lightweights UK
Ronald James 'Squibs' Tily: Cycling Days 1935 - 1947
Author Shelia Clark (daughter)
Sidcup Touring Club seems to have been a great way of socialising. Not only did they have many cycling tours throughout the year but also social events such as Christmas Dinners, Christmas Plays and Fancy Dress Cycle Days (see attached photos - Dad was Shirley Temple on the left). Dad kept the full script of the 1936 Christmas play. It was in the club that he gained the nickname ‘Squibs’. I have no idea why!
As well as tours in England and Wales Dad went on several tours abroad to Switzerland and Germany in 1937 and 1939. See the conditions they encountered in the two images below. In spite of the snow they were wearing shorts in the Alpine sun.
As they left Switzerland they were thouroughly searched by border guards at the German border, as can be seen below.
They were in Germany in the summer of 1939 just before declaration of war and thought they were going to have their bikes impounded at the border. In fact the bikes were dismantled to look inside the frames. I suppose to see if they were carrying any secret documents. They were glad to get home that time!
CTC Travel Carnet, 1937 showing Ronald with a Maclean bike
By 1939 Ronald was listed owning a Claud Butler
Unfortunately, as for
many people, war intervened and this idyllic life
was curtailed. Dad enlisted into the Royal Air Force when war
broke out and was stationed all over Britain and cycled whenever he
could, still returning to Sidcup Touring Club up until 1940. He was
posted to Rhodesia in 1942 to train as a pilot. However, he did not
pass his flying exams (I suppose as we now know that was lucky). He
became an aircraft technician. His love of cycling was still
him and he became one of the active members of the cycling club at RAF
In September 1945 Dad
returned to England but he couldn’t go back
to the family home in Catford, London, as their house had been
completely destroyed during the war. Luckily his family survived. That
was only because they were in their air raid shelter at the bottom of
the garden. They were moved out to a house in Leatherhead in Surrey.
Betty on the back of their tandem
East Surrey club members
Again there seems to
have been an
active social side within the club. Mum and Dad were married in June
1947 but family and working life meant that there was little spare time
for long cycle rides. However, I do remember when my sister and I were
small the whole family would go out into the country, my Mum and sister
on their bikes and I would be in a child’s carrier on the
Dad’s bike. They both instilled a love of the
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